(February 25, 2018) George Forbes, missionary spokesperson, brings a pre-Easter challenge…
The verses in chapter five written by the apostle James in his short letter have been encouraging to me over the years.
James uses the illustration of a farmer waiting patiently for the autumn and spring rains to remind believers of the patience required of them as they wait for the second coming of Christ.
‘Therefore be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and the latter rain. You also be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of your Lord draws near’ (James 5:7-8 MKJV).
The reason Jesus has not come yet relates directly to the harvest. He is waiting for the ‘precious fruit of the earth.’
Just as a farmer patiently waits for the early and later rains to fall and for the harvest to ripen and be reaped, Jesus wants us to understand that he is waiting for ‘precious fruit.’ Every man, woman and child is precious to the Lord. He is not willing that any should perish, but that we should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
For many years as I visited with missionaries in many countries these words were often in my thoughts…
- Precious fruit
- Precious to God the Father
- Precious to God the Son
- Precious to God the Spirit
- Precious to all true followers of Christ.
It was my privilege to see first-hand the work and lives of many missionaries. To see their love, their tears and their joy was an inspiration to me many times.
They were harvesting souls, gathering precious fruit before it was too late!
We’re almost in March 2018… Good Friday will soon be here with Easter celebrations of Christ’s Calvary victory!
And the reality is that there is still a great harvest of precious fruit still to be gathered – especially among the unreached nations!
To be a true partner in any enterprise requires…
- Plus – investment, commitment and much more.
A good partnership lasts through extended time requires a good foundation. And I focus here on spiritual partnerships in the work of the kingdom of God beginning with the spiritual components of a partnership between mission agencies or local churches and national church organisations or local churches.
These are not simple partnerships and the cost can be higher than first considered. There is a price to partnering in the will and work of God. Each partner needs to be aware and consider the price before beginning.
The price of partnerships includes funding; however that is not necessarily the main cost!
If you – or your church – sense the leading of the Holy Spirit to become a partner in any venture that will advance God’s kingdom, the following list of aspects of such a partnership may be helpful in preparing prayerfully for the future.
- The vision that calls for such a partnership
- Who will be the partners?
- The sharing of responsibilities
- How will the partnership be structured?
- What will be the investment of each partner?
- How will the ministry of the partnership be funded?
- Will the financial aspects of the partnership be independently audited?
- What documents, such as working agreements, vision and mission statements, or a Memorandum of Understanding, define the partnership, its legal responsibilities and accountabilities?
Partnerships between respected long-term mission agencies with national church movements have often been well prepared, ensuring that neither partner is dominant. That has not been the case in every partnership however. Equally, partnerships between large churches in the west with national church movements in the rest of the world, have worked well and again, some have not. A study of the reasons is beyond the capacity of this blog. I suggest that mutual respect and mutual trust are foundations on which lasting spiritual partnerships can be built.
Beginning with a vision that God has given, frequently to one person, there is need for sharing, testing a vision and reaching agreement and commitment to a vision.
If the vision is from God it will be accepted and trusted by both partners. The building of a partnership based on a vision will take a good deal of time and work. It will call for patience and grace as well as wisdom. The more careful the preparation and planning the stronger the partnership will become.
I believe that God is never in a hurry, because he is God. It is good planning to proceed with the developing of a partnership, while listening for God’s promptings. His guidance and blessing on a partnership committed to the extension of his kingdom calls for nothing less.
Precious fruit of the earth
Back to James 5:7-8 and the title of this article…
While we should always be patiently expecting the return of the Lord, we must never take our eyes on the need to harvest precious souls!
The NLT version speaks of ‘valuable harvest’ and that farmers ‘eagerly look’ for it.
My challenge as I close this blog is a direct one: Are we too eagerly, patiently looking for such a harvest?
I trust so… recalling the heart cry of Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, as recorded in Matthew 9:36-38, ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field”.’
I indicated the heart of 2 Peter 9 at the beginning of this article: The Message Bible reads: ‘He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost.’
That’s every man, woman and child is precious to the Lord… precious fruit of the earth!
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary spokesperson with a heart for the lost of the nations. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org